Aglaia’s Spanakopita!

 

Spanakopita at Easter 2014!

Spanakopita at Easter 2014!

Aglaia’s Spanakopita

1 package phyllo #7 (they also have thicker country style phyllo that is popular too, but I always prefer the flaky, pastry phyllo!)*

2 sticks butter melted (1/2 pound)

1 lb feta cheese

1 lb ricotta

4 eggs

10 oz fresh spinach

1 med onion chopped

handful bread crumbs

salt & pepper

*Make sure to have phyllo thawed overnight and in the fridge before working with it. Don’t let it get to room temperature or it will start to stick to itself and rip.

 

Preheat oven to 350º

Saute chopped onion in some olive oil until tender. Add spinach and saute until wilted. Remove from heat and add in 3 eggs (lightly beaten), feta, ricotta, handful of bread crumbs (my mom does this but I never do, so it’s optional) and s+p to taste.

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Remove half of the phyllo from the box and place the other half back in the fridge to keep it cool. Here’s where you have to work fast. Using a pastry brush, butter the bottom of a 3 qt pan (I like to use Pyrex, like my mom does, the bottom doesn’t burn too fast!) spread one leaf of phyllo down and liberally butter all over. Repeat with remaining leaves overlapping to cover the whole pan. Spread the spinach-feta mixture on top and then repeat the phyllo-butter layering with the remaining half of phyllo in the fridge.

Score the top of the phyllo in the pattern that you want to cut. Beat the remaining egg with a little bit of olive oil (or butter, I always just use the leftover butter) and brush it over the top of the spanakopita. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes (depending on your oven) or until it starts looking golden and has slightly pulled from edge of pan.

Let it cool and enjoy!

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New Post! New Baby! (not mine)

Hey!

I know it’s been a long time and all I can say to that is…it’s Linus’ fault!

I decided to change the name.  “Farm to Table” just didn’t fit this blog anymore (especially since it is a big time food movement) and I wanted something that encompassed what my life is like these days: domestic.

It seems like as soon as you get pregnant or have a baby you start noticing everyone else doing it too! Which is great, because your baby has a lot of buddies to hang with. Last week my good friend at Burgerphone gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! Welcome baby girl!

Tonight I made a meal in honor of this lil girl’s parents: Black Beans and Kielbasa from November’s EDF “One Pot Meals”. I had noticed that Ms. Burgerphone has been on a somewhat black bean bender from this post on her blog a few weeks ago. And her baby-daddy being of Ukrainian descent has a strong attachment to Kielbasa.  So hence why this meal made me think of them.  And if they happen to read this, the meal was super good and I can make you guys a batch and bring it over in trade for holding the lil lady while you eat! just sayin’.

I served it over coarse bulgur wheat and Linus loved it! Though I did not give him any Kielbasa.

 

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Protected: Linus’ Birth Story

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Blogging Paralysis – A Serious Condition

Ahem…so it’s been over half a year since I last posted.  And a lot has happened since then! We bought a house in the middle of a forest.  Linus George was born on December 15, 2009! and 3 days later we moved ourselves into said house in forest…a day before the first snow blizzard hit said forest. A couple more blizzards later and spring came! Linus and I slowly but surely started figuring things out right as the unseasonably warm weather started in around late February! And we have been on the move ever since.  A few loyal friends have encouraged me to pick back up my pen (er keyboard) and start blogging again.  So for you few, (you know who you are!) I’m making an attempt.

There are a few things I really want to blog about, especially before I forget them.  These will be forthcoming posts (a promise I have to hold myself to!): Linus’ birth, the Breastfeeding story and making baby food.  I know it’s all baby baby baby, but I do believe these topics are really pertinent to the overall food discussion I would like to have on here and besides, that’s what’s happening around my kitchen nowadays anyhow.

Last week I canned for the first time! And it wasn’t so bad! Though I do wish my Ball canning kit would have come with a sturdier canning rack; small jars don’t fit very snuggly on the one I have, so I had to improvise with some other round cooling racks I found. I made Strawberry Wine Jelly from the Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving a great canning resource my aunt gave me a few months back. I picked up a quart of strawberries from the Agriberry stand at the South of the James Farmer’s Market two Saturdays ago…and a bottle of Portuguese dry white wine later I had myself some berry wine jelly.  Now, I’m not sure how I feel about it.  It tastes a bit strong on the wine and sugar, but when you pair it with cheese, it’s divine. Good thing I made these in the suggested 4 oz jars, a teeny tiny bit goes a long way.  Though next time I think I will cut down on the sugar.

Also! I grew a couple strawberries this spring, another first.  The birds and squirrels got to most of them but I managed to get a photo of this plumper before they were all gone.

*Above photo taken and processed with the Droid FxCamera app.

Another thing that happened to me during my break! How did I ever live without the luxury of this phone!

PS

We did not join a CSA or Co-op this season, partly for financial reasons and partly because I wanted to do more research on all the choices.  I plan on going to a lot of farmers markets throughout the week to keep us well stocked; including South of the James on Saturdays, Byrd House Market on Tuesdays and the Huguenot-Robious Market on Thursdays.

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October Dessert of the Month Recipe: Apple Cream Pie

My Dessert of the Month for October is a recipe for an Apple Cream Pie out of Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s outstanding book, Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.  It was delicious! and super easy! The latter point most important since we are in the last stretch of pregnancy here and as you can tell from my absence on this blog – very little motivation.

pie slice

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A new post! and Kourkouto!

kourkouto

*wonky photo collage, hey, it's been a while...

I know it’s been a long time–again, and though I would love to blame it on the baby bump, it’s really not that.  The new apartment is great, but I’m still getting used to the space and the light (lack of it) and the appliances.  I have been cooking and baking pretty regularly, especially since I’ve had great access to fresh veggies and fruit from Victory Farms multiple times a week: South of the James Farmers Markets on Saturdays (which I hate to miss!) and Bryan Park Farmers Market in Tuesdays.  But a lot of what I’ve been making are old standbys that don’t need repeat posts.  That and basics like the brownies my friend Nicole suggested I make last week to quickly satiate my sugar craving.  Half a pan later…

Tonight’s meal was something I had planned to make Friday for a potluck cookout but I ended up actually having to do work-work that day.  Finally got a chance today to put it together.  I found this recipe on Kalofagas’ site so I won’t post it here again, especially since I also found the same recipe tried out on other food blogs.  What I love about this recipe is that instead of using phyllo like you do in other Greek savory pies (spanakopita, tiropita, etc) you make a batter with flour, so it’s more like a frittata almost.  Also love getting to bake with Kasseri cheese, one of my more favorite Greek cheeses!  Another great reason for being back in Richmond is Nick’s Produce & International Food Market where I can get Greek products like Kasseri!!!  I searched and searched for a Greek market in Philly and never found one! Nick’s is awesome.

It’s definitely a rich meal but is perfectly accompanied with a light salad.

I added a chopped asian pepper I got from the farmer’s market to the batter, to give it a lil kick.

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Getting back into the kitchen…slowly…

dirty_plates

This is not a full post yet, but wanted to let everyone know I got to go to the South of the James Farmers Market yesterday and it was just what I needed to motivate.  We picked up our first share from Victory Farms which included: peaches, melon, kale, hot peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onions, potatoes, basil and pickling cucumbers!  Can’t wait to make some refrigerator pickles this week! I also picked up some delicious bread from the Norwood Cottage Bakery stand (thanks to my pal Anne Marie’s advice) and some pimento cheese from a Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish?) stand?? I thought we had left PA! No complaining here. But I was most excited to try a taco from the much talked about Nate’s Taco Truck that sets up at the SOJ every Saturday…it was as great as everyone raves it is, cannot WAIT to go back for more!

FYI: Saturday mornings are totally booked for the rest of the summer.

Fourth of July started off well and got even better as we were invited to a couple parties!  Rick unfortunately couldn’t make it out to any because of his studies, but I popped over to friends’ Emily and Chris Lacroix’s BBQ and as you can see evidenced above it was lick-the-paper-plate-good!!!  They had made this amazing vinegar based sauce that went perfectly with the Pork BBQ–yum! and for dessert a friend had brought over a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake.  Holy Moly do I LOVE ice cream cake.  I was one very satiated mama-to-be.  I didn’t make it to any other parties afterward unfortunately, just felt too run down.  But was able to drag Rick out to get some more ice cream! Across from where we live in Church Hill is this cute lil ice cream place, “It Must Be Heaven”.  It really is heaven and also looks like not just for ice cream, will have to go back for lunch some time! We took our bowls to go and walked around the neighborhood a little bit to see if we could catch any glimpses of the fireworks.  No luck for us, but such a pleasant night anyhow!  It was a really great day, left me excited and happy to be back in the south.

I even made dinner for the first time this evening!  Kale-Sausage Pasta, a rather tame meal but a good one to break in the new kitchen (especially when using a glass stove top for the first time…I almost burned my hand on that thing, jeez!)

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Γαστρονομια κ’ Γαστρομενη (Gastronomy and Pregnancy)

Happy One Year Anniversary to us!  I was hoping to have revamped the site (a new name!) and been way more gastronomically prolific, but life sorta got in the way…Tah-dah! I am pregnant (if you didn’t already guess from my oh-so-subtle post).  It has been 4 months now and finally feeling better and getting over that whole “morning” sickness thing.  Phew!  Unfortunately the last few months I have not had very much motivation to do much of anything in the kitchen, hence my absence on this blog.  And now that I’m starting to finally inch back into the kitchen, it’s just in time to pack everything up and move out, which again doesn’t leave me with much time or inclination to get too food-crafty (AKA: we eat a lot of cereal and ice cream).  We are moving back to Richmond, Virginia next week and very excited to get settled in and start anew.  We have joined the Victory Farms CSA and I can’t wait to start posting about the bounty I will be picking up!  Some other things I hope to do this summer include canning some of the harvest and maybe even venturing into some baby food making?? We’ll see about that last one but this article in the Washington Post is somewhat inspiring.

Though I haven’t cooked much at all there have been moments of insatiable food cravings, like the weekend I HAD to have Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza or the night I really had a hankering for fish en papillote.  I even tried to make Sharon’s Rhubarb cake! but it didn’t really rise, it was tasty but not tall and crumbly like hers.

pregnancy

For those who read Greek you will see that the title of this post is technically incorrect.  The Greek word for pregnancy is εγκυμοσύνη (egimosini) but I have a great story about my great-grandmother in the village in Greece right at the end of the 19th century.  The term γαστρομενη (gastromeni), which loosely translates to “woman’s stomach”, was used back then colloquially to describe a woman being pregnant.  My great-grandmother was feeling sick (“morning” sickness) and so her grandfather (my great-great-great grandfather for those keeping track) took her to the doctor, concerned about her health.  The doctor told him, “Oh there’s nothing wrong with her she’s just εγκυος (pregnant)!”  My great-great-great grandfather did not understand what the doctor meant, he had never heard the formal word for pregnancy, and not wanting to look foolish didn’t ask for further explanation.  When they went back to the village, everyone asked what was wrong with my sick great-grandmother, he answered, “I don’t know, she’s εγκυος!”  Then somebody explained that that meant she was just γαστρομενη.  ha!  So now it’s a family custom to announce that one is pregnant by using the word γαστρομενη.

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Special Series: Estancia Monte Dinero, Part 5 (Final Installment!)

© Christophile Konstas 2009

© Christophile Konstas 2009

Departure

By Elizabeth Ellen

Sharon came back a few moments later with a gourd in one hand and a kettle in the other. “We must take tradition of Maté!” she exclaimed.

We had heard of this drink and seen many Argentines consuming this tea all over the region, but never knew quite what to make of it. We gathered close around the table eager for our lesson about this Argentine tradition.

Drinking maté with friends from a shared hollow gourd with a metal straw is a common social practice in Argentina. The infusion called maté is prepared by steeping dry leaves of yerba maté in hot water, rather than in boiling water like black tea. The flavor of brewed yerba maté is strongly vegetal, herbal, and grassy, reminiscent of green tea. It is very bitter if steeped in boiling water, so it is made using hot but not boiling water. Unlike most teas, it does not become bitter and astringent when steeped for extended periods, and the leaves may be infused several times. In a group, the person who prepares the maté traditionally takes the first brew. That person drinks the mate until there is no water left then refills the gourd with hot water and passes it to the next person, sharing the same bombilla. The gourd is refilled as it’s passed around (one brew per person) until it loses its flavor. To signal that you don’t want any more maté, give thanks to “el cebador” (the server). Only give thanks after your last mate. Once you give thanks it will be understood that you do not want anymore.

In short, the Argentines revere maté the way the British do their tea, and Americans their instant coffee. We shared a few laughs as we carefully passed around the gourd looking to Sharon and each other for confirmation that we were partaking the right way. She explained some of the traditions and origins of the brew as well as some of the rules and faux pas of sharing the beverage, teasing us that were guilty of several of them.

Realizing it was already late afternoon, we agreed our time at the farm had now come full circle and it was time to depart. We were eager to use the last few hours of daylight to head out to the nearby lighthouse and Cabo Virgenes penguin colony still another 30km toward the coast, realizing we would still have to make the rough trip back out, and then make it to another city in darkness. We said our goodbyes and exchanged emails with Sharon, promising to write and let her know how the recipes turned out. Waving from the car, we set out toward the coast, sighing with content, each of us with huge smiles pasted on our faces, changed by our time on the farm, delighted to have made a new friend.

Directions for enjoying Maté:

1.Obtain a gourd and bombilla. Mate is traditionally steeped and served in a hollow calabash gourd and drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla (pronounced bome-bee-ja). There are also mate cups made from metal, ceramic or wood.

2. Pack the dry, loose yerba mate into the gourd just over half full.

3. Insert the bombilla into the gourd.

4. Pour hot water into gourd. It is important that you use hot water (70–80 °C, 160–180 °F) not boiling water, as boiling water will make the mate bitter.

5. Drink from the bombilla. Newcomers to mate tend to stir the herb. Resist this temptation, or you’ll end up clogging the bombilla and allowing herb into the straw. Drink the entire mate when it’s handed to you, don’t just take a small sip and pass it back.

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Special Series: Estancia Monte Dinero, Part 4

© Christophile Konstas 2009

© Christophile Konstas 2009

Lunch

By Elizabeth Ellen

After the farm excursion, we went back to our room to pack up and get ready to head out for the next adventure. Gathering our belongings, we couldn’t help but notice the most wonderful aromas wafting up the stairs.  As we head down to settle our bill for room and board, Sharon saw us with our bags and stated, “surely you will join us for lunch!”  We all looked at each other unknowingly and between the stutters and giggling we all piped up “sure!”

We dropped our things, and took our usual places at the table watching the cook carefully stoking coals in the brick oven also stationed in the dining room.

As we patiently waited, we quizzed Sharon further on topics such as how her kids were educated, how her family originally acquired the farm, and how often she took the 2-hour drive into town on those rough rocky toads. Her life seemed a million miles away from the lives of us city girls; so hearing about her day-to-day life fascinated us to no end.

Our inquisition was interrupted suddenly as the chef announced that lunch was ready while carrying out steaming bowls one by one and placing them in front of us. “Lamb stew,” he grinned.

My travel companions squealed with delight. Lamb was one of their favorites. I had never had lamb, and had always heard you will feel decidedly one way or another about it as it is a stronger tasting meat. I will happily try anything once, and knew by the expressions as they took their first bite, I too was going to become a fan.

It was divine. The lamb was so tender and fresh, not at all the gamy taste everyone had always warned me about. Opting to use the warm crusty bread placed in front of us as utensils, we tossed our forks and spoons aside and dove in sopping up the delicious sauce with our bread and grabbing the lamb pieces still on the bone tearing the meat off.  Included in the stew were the potatoes, carrots and onions, picked from the garden we had just explored! The stew couldn’t have been a more perfect conclusion to the cool crisp weather outside.

As the cook came around to gather our dishes, he laughed at his discovery chiming in, “you liked it!” Looking down at our bowls you would never know anything had been served in them. Blushing, we all shook our heads in agreement with wide eyes. We all had a good laugh and thanked everyone for the wonderful food and hospitality; we felt so lucky to have found such a gem on our travels.

After packing up the car, we came back for final goodbyes, when Sharon exclaimed, “wait, I almost forgot there is just one thing left we must do before you go. I’ll be right back!”

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